The golden days are over.
I saw the story peppering my newsfeed all through yesterday and just scrolled past in active denial. Why? For the same reason I still wail “don’t do it!” every time the main characters split up in a horror movie. We all know what’s going to happen: aliens will rupture chest cavities, killer piranhas will feed on them one by one, the most annoying character is going to get injured and slow everyone else down—and in the end, everyone’s dead except for the main character and maybe a love interest (if they’re lucky).
Except for Williams, his gauntlet of monsters is us.
Sure, we all fell in love with his syrupy voice and the saccharine stories that followed: his reuniting with his mother, his job offer with the Cavs, his first Mac and Cheese commercial. We’ll shower him with accolades and even donate cash, but this story now seems to have been destined for a non-storybook ending.
Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post described him as “the houseguest of the national consciousness who came to stay for a week and then turned out not to have anywhere else to go.” It may be more akin to inviting him into Richard Connell’s Most Dangerous Game (that famous story where a crazy rich guy hunts humans).
I don’t think anyone holds individual malice toward Ted Williams. But ask anyone who’s followed this story and you’ll probably hear the inevitable “I saw this coming.” I said it too. If not some trouble with the law, I saw a relapse followed by rehab followed by yesterday’s news. And even if this particular incident wasn’t that severe—a simple argument—most of us know that this is just the beginning.
Here’s Petri again:
Our idols these days have to come with feet of clay included. We like Taylor Swift, all right. But Britney Spears sells papers. Tiger Woods could sell golf clubs and Buicks before, but now that he’s fallen, we tear Us Weeklys off the rack.
In short, we love a good “meteoric rise to fame” story, but what we love more is a good fall from grace. It’s what’s so great about horror movies—that joy of saying “thank God that’s not me.”
Granted, I’m a cynical asshole. But then, I also watch horror through my fingers hoping each time that they make it out of today’s monster-filled abyss OK.
[UPDATE: A previous version of this post erroneously indicated that Ted Williams had been arrested. He was not arrested; he was detained. We regret the error. Sorry, Ted.]